Netgear has a bunch of new product announcements at CES 2021, and the most interesting of the lot is the RAXE500 - their first Wi-Fi 6E router with support for 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz bands. The key here is the availability of the wide-open 6 GHz band - while the move to 6 GHz doesn't deliver any extra bandwidth, the absence of interference (and additional free channels) in that band results in more stable throughput in practical scenarios.

The availability of client chipsets - the AX210 from Intel that is already shipping in some systems, as well as the Broadcom BCM4389 for mobile devices - means that we should see fairly rapid adoption and consumer benefits from Wi-Fi 6E compared to the long road that we had with Wi-Fi 6. Netgear shared some test results of 5GHz and 6GHz connections in a RF chamber and open air scenario to bring out the benefits of 6GHz channels.

Coming to the hardware itself, the RAXE500 follows the same industrial design of the other Nighthawk AX routers from Netgear. On the rear, we have two sets of LAN port pairs capable of link aggregation (one of them is capable of acting as a WAN port). There is also a 2.5Gbps LAN port, and two USB 3.0 Type-A ports. Internally, the WiSoC is a quad-core 1.8 GHz processor, and the radio chains are 4x4 each on the 2.4 GHz (at 40 MHz for 1.2 Gbps), 5 GHz (at 160 MHz for 4.8 Gbps), and 6 GHz (at 160 MHz for 4.8 Gbps) - allowing Netgear to claim up to 10.8 Gbps of theoretical throughput.

The additional radios for the 6 GHz band take the MSRP of the RAXE500 up to what the first AX12 (RAX200) was introduced at - $599. Netgear stated that the router should be available in the market by February 2021.

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  • Operandi - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    Do people really spend this much money in the plastic consumer networking space? $600 is insane for a consumer router. Really anything beyond $200 and you should start looking at building your own gateway, switch, and AP network.
  • calc76 - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    Where are you going to get all that with 6/6E APs for not much more than $600.

    Or do you mean that if you are going to speed over $200 you might as well spend several thousand?
  • Kevin G - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    Not OP but I think the point was disaggregating the devices into multiple, cheaper units. A stand alone AC class AP can be had for $150 but that doesn't include any router functionality. I'm actually waiting for basic AX access points for consumers to appear but not expecting pricing to change much ($200 to $250?) Grabbing a small PoE switch ($250) and basic wired router ($100) can bring the total to the same $600 price range.

    The difference is scalability and simplicity of management. One router that does it all for a small network (fast wi-fi and a few wired ports) works for most consumer users in terms of devices for small living spaces. Going the dedicated AP route scales up as it permits greater coverage area and room for more wired devices as that factor is purely in a switch. The a-la-carte approach does have require a bit of extra work in configuration that consumers tend to avoid even if it'd better suite their needs.
  • Operandi - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    I'm not sure what the rest of the market looks like but the Ubiquiti Unifi stuff that deploy is pretty easy to manage. Not really any harder than your average high-end consumer router that is loaded with a metric ass load of features anyway...

    Figuring out what you want to buy in terms of hardware is obviously more complicated vs. one component that does it all but if you are looking to actually use these types of features you should be able to figure that part out.
  • w1000i - Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - link

    Huawei AX3 Pro for 95$ much better deal. I got 1400mps speed on my old mate 20 pro which even not wifi 6.
  • vladx - Wednesday, January 13, 2021 - link

    Yep can confirm, Huawei AX3 Pro is great and I paid only $75 in my case. Just make sure to get the Chinese version as the EU version is crippled in order to comply with EU laws.
  • Operandi - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    Thousands??? Wi-Fi 6 APs start at around $100, a small business class gateway is $200-$300.

    Anyway.... what I'm really questioning is the idea spend $600 on plastic consumer grade router. In my opinion at this price level it makes far more sense to build out a separate gateway and AP based network that is likely more capable and more important upgradeable to future standards and capacity.
  • notR1CH - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    Especially when most routers end up in bad locations since that's where the cable / fiber demarc is. You really want a separate AP you can put in a good location to maximize coverage. I also wonder how often a consumer router like this will see proper security updates.
  • calc76 - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    Even a single 4x4 160MHz 6/6E AP isn't anywhere near only $100.

    The cheaper WiFi 6 (11ax) routers, like the Xiaomi AX1800, only do a small fraction of the speed of a good 160MHz band 4x4 router. They are barely faster than a decent WiFi 5 (11ac) router. A good WiFi 6 router will be multiple times faster.

    Perhaps you need to look at the 11ax spec closer, not all WiFi 6 routers are even remotely comparable.
  • calc76 - Monday, January 11, 2021 - link

    To go into a bit more detail about the differences between cheap routers and good routers...

    The cheap WiFi 6/6E routers are 2x2 which is only 1200Mbps per band, so can get roughly half of that due to overhead. These have been tested to get around 600Mbps actual bandwidth when next to the router but it drops off further away. Good but older WiFi 5 routers could already get well over 500Mbps.

    The good WiFi 6/6E routers are 4x4 which is 4800MBps per band, which can go well over wired gigabit speed and is why they include 2.5Gbe ports on the routers.

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